11 hours ago
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
L'As Du Fallafel, Paris
What makes a good sandwich? I believe it to be a combination of personal attachments, the contents, and the environment. Personal attachments might be an odd criterion for some people, but think of the popularity of peanut butter & jam; for most people it is a memory that brings us back to a certain time. My personal attachments to falafel sandwiches go back decades as my sister would sometimes bring me one when she picked me up after school. For me, L'As Du Falafel automatically has this one point in its favour.
The contents of a the falafel sandwich are good - good falafel balls that are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They are not in the least bit dry. More importantly, they have a reputation of consistently good falafel balls. The pita was soft; the pickled cabbages were also of good quality and quite delicious on their own. What really made the sandwich for me was the addition of 2 slices of marinated eggplant; enough for an eggplant lover, yet not obtrusive for those who hate the vegetable (at our tasting, there was 1 of each). Also, the sauces were good.
Ordering a falafel at L'As Du Fallafel is no mean feat. Many people get the €2 discount by ordering it at the counter & eating their sandwich, which comes with a plastic fork, on the street. This involves patience as well as a strict adherence to procedure. We went inside, and were treated fairly well for such a busy sandwich bar. The place is busy, it's loud and it seems as though the staff move in fast-forward.
The three components of L'As du Fallafel are firmly in place. However, when we bit into our sandwiches, we expected the "Wow, that's a sandwich!" moment. This moment never really came. It was a good sandwich, beyond a doubt, but it suffers under one additional element: hype and expectation. There's not a sandwich in the world that can live up to the expectation of being the best sandwich in the world.